In 1643, George Gillespie traveled to London as one of the eleven Scots chosen to participate in the Westminster Assembly. Initially tasked by Parliament to revise the 39 Articles of the Church of England, one of the most contentious topics of the Assembly was the nature of the relationship between the church and state. On one occasion the renowned legal scholar and Erastian, John Seldon, argued for the spiritual subordination of the church to the magistrate. The logic of the elder statesman seemed so unassailable none rose to challenge him. Parliament had called the meeting, after all. But then, Gillespie heard the whispered voice of his friend, Samuel Rutherford, “Rise, George! Rise up, man, and defend the church which Christ has purchased with his own blood.” Gillespie stood and with scripturally-saturated wisdom, trumpeted Christ’s supremacy over his church and won the day, leaving an indelibly biblical mark on the ecclesiology of the Standards and the Reformation itself. He was 31 years old.
Gillespie’s bold example should serve as smelling salts in the nostrils of young churchmen in the PCA. Caught in the crossfire between a godly impulse to show deference to fathers in the faith and a culture of prolonged adolescence, it can be difficult for young elders to know their place and find their voice. When controversial issues like Revoice come knocking on the doors of our sessions, presbyteries and general assemblies, conventional wisdom kicks in, urging the greener presbyter to “Sit tight. Stay out of it. Let the older titans clash. ‘Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise’ (Proverbs 17:28).” For the assistant pastor whose livelihood is umbilically connected to the good graces of his senior minister and session or for the RUF minister, missionary, chaplain, or church planter whose support may come from a broad coalition of churches with conflicting visions for the future of the PCA, biblical boldness can have a steep price tag. But while there is a time for young elders “to keep silence,” there is also “a time to speak” (Ecclesiastes 3:7).
Brothers, that time is now.
The PCA ordains gay pastors. The commitment of men like Greg Johnson to abstain from homosexual activity is important, but their insistence on identifying themselves by their sinful desires — instead of renouncing them with holy hatred — is a tragic compromise. While the adoption of the Nashville Statement and the Report on Human Sexuality were encouraging psychological victories for those eager to guard the purity of Christ’s church, all actual judicial attempts to exercise discipline have proven unsuccessful. This, coupled with the recent failure of two-thirds of our presbyteries to approve overtures intended to slow the spread of Revoice theology, is symptomatic of a denomination in crisis. Read more»
Jim McCarthy | “Rise Up, Man! A Call to Young Elders” | February 15, 2022
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